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Tips from our members

London member Joel is an experienced home swapper 

Read his thoughts on what goes into a successful exchange experience...

View Joel's listing

Get an email dialogue going with your potential exchange partner. Explain that you need to feel comfortable about whoever may be living in your home. Ask them to tell you about their lifestyle, work, other interests and what they hope to get out of the exchange. Give them similar information about yourself. After a few emails passing back and forth, you’ll have a good idea if they’re the sort of people you’d like to have staying in your home. Pick up the phone and have a chat. If at any stage you don’t feel comfortable about proceeding with the exchange, just say so.

Ask as many questions as necessary in order to get a clear idea of what’s on offer from them – their home, the neighbourhood and the city. Give them the equivalent information about your place. Exchange as many photos as you can (including photos of the people you’re corresponding with; it helps to picture who’ll be living in your space). Suggest that if they have friends or family in your area who can view your home, they should do so in order to increase their confidence factor.

Be entirely frank with them and say that you expect the same candour from them. It’s in everyone’s interests to minimise disappointment or nasty surprises through misinformation.

By the time you feel you know the people you’re dealing with and have exchanged photos, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the standard of accommodation on offer. Assuming that the quality of each party’s offering is roughly comparable, you should relax in the knowledge that each will respect the other’s living space. Neither party is likely to wilfully mistreat the other’s property. Store especially personal/valuable items in a space that they’ll not have access to.

The welcome is very important. If you’re not there to welcome the arriving party, someone needs to be at home to receive them and take time to settle them into the home and the neighbourhood. A detailed set of guidance notes should be left with them, with emergency contact numbers and a section on “what to do if…”

Keep arrangements simple; for example, each party continues to pay the bills for gas, electricity, water etc at their own property. Phone arrangements (including Internet access) need to be worked out to suit the requirements.

Stay in email contact whilst the exchange is in progress. It’s fun to hear how they’re getting along.

Joel Israelsohn

New York member Stephanie and her 'special friendship' with Koos & Cees in Amsterdam

Read her thoughts on home swaps and special friendships...

View Stephanie and Lisa's listing

...On Home Around the World I scoured the ads for listings in Amsterdam wanting to exchange with New York City. I used to live in Brooklyn with Lisa in the newly trendy neighborhood of Bushwick, but we've since moved to Manhattan.

I found Koos and Cees on Home Around The World and proposed a swap for our humble Brooklyn pad with their two-story townhouse in De Pijp. They could do only two weeks in the U.S. and we needed four weeks in Amsterdam. They graciously proposed that we stay in their guest room after they returned.

We barely knew these guys, expect for Koos having stopped by on a layover from a KLM flight he was working.

However, we became very, very close during our stay – often sharing dinner, walking around Amsterdam and having a midnight coffee together, us meeting their local friends and them meeting our expat pals, going to gay bars. We share a love of great coffee and good food, 80s music, queer culture, ribald comedy, architecture, biking, traveling, other adventures, and so much more. They took us to the beach in Bloemendaal, Lisa visited Cees’ school where he is principal, and Koos rented a car and drove us to Alkmaar when it was time to leave. I stayed with them last year for two weeks and went to their wedding!

It’s a very special friendship Lisa and I have with Koos and Cees that flourishes across continents and they are never far from my mind.

The complete article On Home Swaps & Special Friendships appears on Stephanie’s blog post.

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